SANDRINGHAM: Queen Eli­zabeth II said on Monday she has agreed to grant Prince Harry and Meghan their wish for a more independent life that will see them move part-time to Canada.

The British monarch said in a statement that “today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family”. She said it had been “agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK”. Harry and Meghan are also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days,” the queen said.

In a six-sentence statement that mentioned the word “family” six times, the queen said that “though we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family”.

Elizabeth calls it ‘complex matters for my family to resolve’

The Monday’s meeting involved the queen, her heir Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry, with Meghan expected to join by phone from Canada.

Princes William and Harry slammed a newspaper report on Monday describing a severe strain in their relationship, calling the story offensive and potentially harmful as they embark on talks regarding the future of the British monarchy.

The two brothers issued the unusual statement even as Queen Elizabeth II was set to hold face-to-face talks with Prince Harry for the first time since he and his wife, Meghan, unveiled their controversial plan to walk away from royal roles. The dramatic family summit is meant to chart a future course for the couple.

Though the statement did not name the newspaper, the Times of London has a front page story about the crisis in which a source alleged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the “bullying attitude from” William.

The joint statement insisted that the story was false. For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful, the statement said.

The meeting reflects the queen’s desire to contain the fallout from Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as senior royals, work to become financially independent and split their time between Britain and North America. The couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made the announcement on Wednesday without telling the queen or other senior royals first.

The meeting at the monarch’s private Sandringham estate in eastern England will also include Harry’s father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William.

William is expected to travel to Sandringham from London and Harry from his home in Windsor. Charles has flown back from the Gulf nation of Oman, where he attended a condolence ceremony on Sunday following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Meghan, who is in Canada with the couple’s baby son Archie, is likely to join the meeting by phone.

Buckingham Palace said a range of possibilities would be discussed, but the queen was determined to resolve the situation within days. The goal was to agree on next steps at Monday’s gathering, which follows days of talks among royal courtiers and officials from the UK and Canada. Buckingham Palace stressed, however, that any decision will take time to be implemented. One of the more fraught questions that need to be worked out is precisely what it means for a royal to be financially independent and what activities can be undertaken to make money.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also face questions on paying for taxpayer-funded security. Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to comment, but said safety was a priority.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020